Career Services to Multicultural Populations Forum – MontCo Works

Instructions: Create an original post and describe the major groups of people with whom you work and the backgrounds from which they originate. Identify the key resources that you use with this group.  Then respond to one classmate’s post. You will make a total of two posts.

Remember that our learning group works in a full-value environment: We treat our colleagues with respect and professionalism. Our comments should reflect this culture.

33 thoughts on “Career Services to Multicultural Populations Forum – MontCo Works”

  1. dchominski says:

    As the youth provider in our county, we typically work with the Opportunity Youth group as designated in the chapter. These young people come from a plethora of racial, ethnic, social and economic backgrounds. Many of our young people have learning disabilities or qualify for food assistance. Montgomery County is a diverse place and one of our youth could have grown up in a city like Norristown, or come from a farm in Greenlane. We work with young people that are White, Black and Latino/a primarily.

    We utilize a number of resources to ensure that they are in a better place after they leave us. First, we provide support to them as they navigate a number of processes as they relate to education; GED, applying to college, financial aid, non credentialed providers. These can be overwhelming to someone with a reading issue, so our advisors supporting them is essential to their success. Second, we provide supportive services that help to remove financial barriers to lower income individuals. Primarily, this could be assisting with transportation, work attire, or clearances. All are items that may not be able to be paid for by a young person, especially one with limited resources. Finally, we provide connections to jobs and internships in industries and areas that may not otherwise be available to a young person with no previous connections or experience. This helps to level the playing field with our youth from a lower SES background against those that may be from a wealthier background and may have connections to jobs from familial connections. This “connection” is an essential resource that we provide to our participants.

    1. v-gweakly says:

      Dan, I completely agree that one of the most important services you provide is those “connections”. At our office with adults, I’ve found our Business Services team is great at helping customers to get an interview with a company that might have overlooked a customer, or that our client may not even have known about. In my own life, I’ve benefitted from role models who have modelled how to successfully navigate education and higher education, land a job and demonstrate adaptive life and employment skills. I know many “opportunity youth” that you serve don’t have the same role models and connections, so it’s great that your team can model those important skills and also make tangible connections to opportunities for your clients, levelling the playing field for youth who don’t start with the connections that come with wealth and social status.

  2. v-gweakly says:

    In my role as a training specialist, the major groups I work with whose diversity impacts my role are individuals involved in the justice system, individuals with disabilities and individuals from the Baby Boomer generation. One barrier that frequently comes up for individuals with a criminal background is criminal background checks that are required to enter training programs, especially CDL. Our Career Coaches do an excellent job of making customers aware of the background check requirements so that they know what to expect and there are no “surprises”. One way I could improve my own practice is to research second chance friendly occupations and training providers so that I can refer Career Coaches to those options for their customers. I have also found that individuals who have been incarcerated for long periods often struggle to use technology upon release since it changes so rapidly. I have helped clients complete online assessments, and try to include multiple options for communication to give the customer a choice of what they’re most comfortable with.

    I often help in the intake process for individuals who disclose a disability, or work with training providers to support customers with disabilities in training. For example, one participant had failed a learner’s permit test multiple times because of distractions in the testing environment. The training provider created an accommodation so the participant could wear headphones during the test, which helped the participant overcome the barrier. I also make sure I document when an individual discloses a disability so that a Career Coach later can assess barriers and opportunities with the customer at a later time. Career Coaches can also make referrals to OVR for additional support as needed.

    Finally, I frequently hear from older customers that they feel they are not being hired because of their age. I take a strengths based approach in these circumstances, and try to remind customers that their experience is an asset. I also refer to a workshop offered at our office called “How to Jump over the Age Barrier and Land a Job” that I have attended and found helpful for participants to think through the way their age can be an asset in the workplace. The workshop also provides resources from AARP and other organizations.

    1. kglouner says:

      We also have young people who have been involved in the justice system. Some are unaware of charges that are on their records and our counselors do a great job of helping them navigate the potential conversations they will need to have with employers around their circumstances. Your comment about “to research second chance friendly occupations and training providers” is a great idea. I would believe that simply being able to share that list of employers with a client to let them know that there are possibilities for them may reduce their concern and anxiety around the topic and give them some hope that they will find a good fit for themselves.

    2. shudson says:

      I was struck and impressed by the advocacy and actions you took in assisting a customer to seek accommodations (headphones) while taking their learner’s permit exam. I am certain that this not only helped the customer feel more confident during the testing, but also strengthened the rapport that he/she/they have with you. While I don’t work with older adults professionally, I have personally been having conversations with family and family friends who are job searching in their 60’s who have experienced challenges and insecurities as they shift career fields to part time jobs for extra income after retiring. I’m grateful for know that workshops and resources like this exist at the CareerLink and will be sure to encourage folks to look at their age and plentiful experience in a more positive light!

    3. v-trobinson says:

      The last statement you shared about older individuals being under the impression they are not being hired due to their age. Sadly, this thought comes to many older individuals minds. You shedding light on their experience is an excellent upturn! I agree. I know someone who shared that they were presently working for a company for 16 years and would like to find new employment but were nervous about leaving their current role and not getting hired elsewhere because of their age. Firstly, I applauded that individual for their commitment and loyalty to remain with an employer for 16 years. Following that, I told that individual that your commitment shows you will be dependable and don’t mind putting in the time. That individual’s length of stay is certainly their strength.

    4. dchominski says:

      Gareth, this is excellent insight and I appreciate your thoughts on working with such a diverse set of individuals. There are great many challenges in working with both older individuals, and those that have records. I like that you are taking a strengths based approach and working towards their positive attributes, while going above and beyond to find employers that will give individals with a record hope for the future. Thank you!

    5. V-wgarris says:

      Gareth I am glad you pointed out the population of older workers that we help. As a “mature” worker, I have a soft spot for older workers. There is definitely bias towards older people and the idea that they are not up to date on technology or the changing landscapes in the workplace. I had my older participants say that employers automatically assume that older worker will not be with the company long because they plan to retire soon. I know older people that are in their 70’s and continue to work full-time and plan to stay at work as long as a company will keep them.
      I have many older workers on my caseload and I strongly encourage them to take the “How to Jump over the Age Barrier” workshop. I also encourage them to take advantage of the free workshops offered by American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) and workshops at local libraries that help with various computer programs, typing, and apps. PA CareerLink® offers numerous workshops on how to use some of the newest tools for job search, such as LinkedIn and I suggest my older customers take these workshops, especially if they are not familiar with them.

  3. kglouner says:

    We are the WIOA youth provider in Montgomery County so we typically work with youth ages 14-24 who are often referred to as “opportunity youth.” The population is representative of several racial and ethnic backgrounds. The vast majority are Black or Hispanic. Because WIOA is an eligibility program our clients must meet income thresholds in alignment with the law. There is a large portion of our caseload that have disabilities. We are fortunate in that the WIOA program is overseen by the Montgomery County Intermediate Unit so we are well equipped to tap into resources for people with disabilities and consult with the many experts we have on staff to assist with resources and develop our own staff’s skillset to work with young people whose needs are sometimes complex.
    As mentioned, the MCIU already has a wide variety of supports within its confines. We also partner with our Title I providers to assist with completing tutoring to be successful in testing for completing a GED. We have a great relationship with the Montgomery County Community College and often refer young people to attend training opportunities there. From assistance to applications to providing supportive services in the form of transportation (bus passes, Lyft and Uber when necessary), etc., the resources that we provide are vast. We provide Paid Work Experiences with the many business and agency partners that we have which provides young people with little past experience, and sometimes little confidence, with the skills they need to build a resume and provide tangible proof that they are able to be successful in the workforce. I think our team is knowledgeable in the many mental health services that are available as well and using their professional judgement are able to determine the best next step to set the client up for a successful pathway.

    1. v-jkremp says:

      This is very interesting to learn about and I was unaware of all of the different resources you provide. When you mentioned providing proof to individuals to show that they can be successful in the workforce and achieve their employment goals is something that is very valuable to show customers. Support can go a long way with clients because it can create mutual respect for each other as well as commitment to the process. Transportation barriers are situations we deal with regularly, and I think supportive services and creating good relationships with resources can go a long way towards a successful client relationship.

  4. v-jkremp says:

    In my role as a Career Coach, I work with individuals from all different kinds of backgrounds and age groups. Most of the adults I work with have experienced different barriers throughout their lives. Although these barriers vary across a large spectrum, that does not interfere nor impact the support we provide as career coaches. Working in a city like Norristown has allowed myself as a Career Coach to have a highly diverse group of customers- I receive individuals who are seeking assistance that fall in the younger age range as well, referring them and connecting them with MCUI to see if they qualify for their program and can use their resources.

    There are a list of resources we use for all individuals. Like most instances, the resources used depend on the individuals situation. We provide resources that can assist with transportation barriers, housing barriers, and legal barriers. In addition to assisting with barriers, we provide assistance with job search, resume assistance, interviewing strategies, transitioning into a new career workshops, and many more. As career coaches, we provide 1-on-1 assistance with evaluating CareerScope assessments and verifying one’s eligibility for trainings. I believe the most important resource one can provide as a career coach is support. Without support, an individual can doubt themselves and their ability to become hired and seek a sustainable lifestyle- whether that be from earning training or attending a workshop.

    1. pscott says:

      I totally agree that providing support to our clients is key to assist them with knowing they aren’t alone while connecting them to opportunities to reinforce or further develop skills that they already have.

      1. v-ksymes says:

        I couldn’t agree more. Knowing that there is support from an individual or group can be such a help. Many of my customers have expressed that the support we can offer has made navigating the job seeking ring more bearable. Going it alone can bring on a sense of isolation and despair sometimes.

    2. mhockenbrock says:

      I think support is one of the best resources that we can provide our clients. Sometimes it is hard to see yourself reaching your future goals when there is so much going on that in your life that also requires your attention. It is helpful to have someone that can share opportunities and resources that help guide our clients through any barriers they are facing and reach the goals they set for themselves. It is also oftentimes hard to see how one’s strengths and work experience can fit into roles in the workforce that they aren’t accustomed to holding. It is great to know that our teams are helping our clients navigate these situations and providing much needed support.

  5. pscott says:

    In my position at MWN we provide services to youth 14 – 24 years with a variety of racial, ethnic, and social economical backgrounds. Some of the challenges run the gamut from mental health, learning differences, criminal histories, and lack of a support system.
    We use a variety of resources in programing that include tutoring, job readiness workshops, certification programs such as CPR/Fork Lift, GED prep, and connecting clients with mentoring and employment with our numerous employer partnerships and assisting with any educational goals by connecting them to educational or certification opportunities. Of course, referrals made to appropriate community resources if necessary. Transportation is a huge barrier that we provide supportive services for throughout the county. Others can include work or interview attire, testing fees/books or even tools necessary for employment. The services are inclusive and vast for our participants. Our goal is to successfully meet the participant where they are and do so in a respectful, inclusive and non judgmental manner .

  6. mhockenbrock says:

    Through our program, the major group of people that we work with is Opportunity Youth. As mentioned in chapter six these young people often fit into the other major groups such as those with disabilities and persons with justice involvement. Montgomery County has a diverse population, and our clients are diverse in gender, race, ethnicity, religion and education. A large portion of our clients are a part of generation Z. Due to our grant funding requirements, most of our youth must be in a household that’s income is below the federal poverty threshold.

    I think one of the main ways that we are able to assist our clients is through the connections that our team makes with employers, educators and community resources throughout Montgomery County. Oftentimes our clients are not aware of the resources that Montgomery County residents have access to. We have connected our clients with maternal health programs, financial assistance programs, educational programs and mental health resources just to name a few. Since our grant is facilitated by the Montgomery County Intermediate Unit, we are very grateful to have access to the resources and community of the K-12 education system. We can support our clients through connections with their teachers/counselors and by connecting them to opportunities from the public, technical and higher education schools in the county.

    We use our funding to help our clients overcome any barriers that might prevent them from finding employment. Our Career Counselors work with our clients to develop goals they would like to reach while enrolled in the MWN program. Then the client and counselors will meet weekly to plan steps to meet those goals. We use career exploration tools, work experiences and supportive services to assist our clients. Financial assistance for youth is an important resource that we are able to provide. This includes paying for supportive services such as clearances, transportation and work attire. It is expensive to find and maintain a job and our clients oftentimes need support navigating these costs. This is one of the biggest resources our team assists our clients with.

  7. shudson says:

    As many of my colleagues have already expressed, the MontcoWorks NOW team assists Opportunity Youth through our program. Montgomery County itself is quite diverse in terms of SES, cultures, and geographical landscape. While many of our participants are eligible for our program based on the federal poverty income guidelines, other participants are deemed eligible by having a disability or having had/currently having an IEP in school and income is not the qualifier. Our program feels unique in that sense: each participant enters the program with their individual barriers that may look very different from one participant to the next. Two of the participants I work closely with have vastly different experiences: one is a college graduate who lives in an affluent area of the county and has a physical disability; the second is low income, facing eviction and struggling with mental health issues as well as substance use and lives in a low income part of a metropolitan area of the county. I have served as a Youth Workforce Career Counselor for the program and transitioned roles in March of 2021 to now serve as the Developer of Workforce Partnerships. As others have discussed, one of the key supports MWN can offer is paid work experiences (PWE’s) that allow participants to gain experience in a field that they may not have prior work experience in, and are typically fields a participant is striving to start a career in through training and educational opportunities we also provide. Our 100+ partners throughout the county are made aware of the program’s goals, and are typically understanding if a client hasn’t fully developed professional etiquette, is struggling with attendance, or may need a mentor to take time one on one to teach a participant the ins and outs of the role. Due to our strong partnerships, the employer knows they are able to reach out to me or the participant’s career counselor should we need to be made aware of behaviors that are compromising to the PWE opportunity. As Megan said, our team works CLOSELY with our participants and has the rapport to give constructional feedback on performance if necessary, and I also ensure that the employer partner feels supported in their decisions to address behavior/attendance issues, set expectations for performance, and terminate the participant in a PWE should the opportunity not be a good fit after other measures are taken. These PWE’s and also direct hire opportunities open doors for participants, and it’s my absolute favorite part of what I do. Our program provides a variety of other supports as discussed already (supportive services for transportation and work uniform/interview attire, training opportunities for individual credentials and certifications, group trainings and leadership development opportunities, industry tours, job shadows, college application assistance and tours, job search assistance, employment and educational incentives, etc.).

  8. jjenkins1 says:

    I encounter job seekers, unemployment seekers, & those seeking training. Some have skilled backgrounds and others are just breaking ground. We offer training for career changes with supportive services, computer classes for continued learning, workshops. and limited UC help.

  9. jjenkins1 says:

    It is great to hear that there are options out there for the youth who have backgrounds. That there is support and active resources for them to move in the right direction. This is good news as having a second chance when young can be life changing.

  10. v-trobinson says:

    The clientele I work with is presently employed and close to exiting the welfare program. My clientele may need case management to encourage and commend them for maintaining employment. These individuals have had severe barriers to gaining and maintaining employment, so encouragement and case management are necessary to motivate them to continue employment. If issues arise, we will tackle them and find ideal solutions to remediate the occurrence and have it not interfere with their employment status. The key resources I use with this group are continued support, remediation for when issues arise, and childcare assistance. The clients in the EARN program are automatically qualified for child care assistance, and it’s necessary if the parent or guardian of a child is planning to work.

    1. v-esanders says:

      Tamika, yes. Access to childcare resources can make or break someone’s progress they’ve made with obtaining and retaining employment. Affirming people’s strengths they’ve shown during these up-hill battles is so important too. Well said.

  11. v-esanders says:

    When working with people, there are a plethora of different cultural groups we encounter on a daily basis. A person’s cultural spectrum is dictated by anything from their religion, ethnicity, and heritage to their sexuality, work history, or hobbies. Due to the nature of career development work, the majority of folks we serve are from lower-class socioeconomic standings and/or from under-served communities including people who are racial minorities, people who are returning to civilization from incarceration, or people who have challenges with their mental health.

    There are countless resources that we use at CareerLink to support our diverse customer base. First thing that came to mind is my lived experience with similar struggles. Our Career Coaches themselves are resources that can relate and validate our customers who are struggling with whatever their situation might be. Human connection is a powerful resource. Additionally, we keep a list of frequently updated community resources handy for folks who may be struggling with life events that are beyond our scope of practice at a career center. Connections include community resources for housing, food, mental health support, coronavirus protection support, and so much more. Third, we have a computer resource center available because we understand that our customers do not necessarily have at-home access to devices and WiFi, or they are not literate in computer usage and need assistance. These are but a few resources we use to support all people who are looking for services.

    1. gstone says:

      I agree with you that human connection is a powerful resource. Being able to build a trusting relationship with our customers is going to help us empathize with them better and provide the kind of support that will benefit them the most. Sometimes people just need to know that we hear them and that their feelings are validated. By making that connection with a customer, they are likely to be more receptive to resources we have to offer.

  12. V-wgarris says:

    I work with the WIOA program, and our participants are young, old, racially diverse, all levels socially and economically, and all levels of education. I have customers that have a master’s degree and some that still need their high school diploma or GED. We have to tailor our conversation and tools to the individual, so it is definitely not one size fits all. PA CareerLink offers so many resources, no matter what background our customers have. Most people who are not familiar with our offerings are surprised at all of the assistance they can receive.
    The majority of my participants are Baby Boomers or mature job seekers. PA CareerLink® offers so many workshops that are helpful for helping this demographic get what they need, but I encourage all of my mature job seekers to take the “How to Jump Over The Age Barrier and Get The Job” workshop. For some of the participants that have been working for many years, the workshop helps to give them a perspective of how the workforce, looking for a job, and applying for a job has changed. I have also recommended resources and websites outside of CareerLink, such as the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP)

    1. v-kfrancesca says:

      Wendy, I love that there are supportive services and workshops for the older population that still needs to work. With the cost of living these days it is nearly impossible for anyone to survive on their social security benefits alone, so finding supplemental income is crucial. It is unfortunate that mature job seekers are discriminated against, as they have years of experience and wisdom that they can share with younger workers. I completely agree that changing their perspective on how the job market has changed over the years is key in helping them navigate the changes, and hopefully lead to them finding satisfactory employment.

    2. hjones says:

      Similar to the adult segment, not one youth is the same. We serve youth in a variety of circumstances from college graduates to high school dropouts. We tend to meet them where they are within their educational and career journey and providing services and resources might look vastly different to some compared to others. Overall, the resources are amazing and life changing once a youth buys in and works hard toward accomplishing their goals.

  13. v-ksymes says:

    the major groups of people with whom you work and the backgrounds from which they originate. Identify the key resources that you use with this group.
    As a Career Coach I work with members of the community with varying backgrounds. I have worked with those who have intellectual and physical disabilities that work in partnership with other agencies developing a plan to reach employment goals. I also work with Dislocated and Adult customers that are looking for various services. Some want to advance skills they have obtained through employment and never through training and others that have worked in the same position for a long period of time and want to obtain stackable skills to advance their careers.

    The resource that allow me to assist each of these customers is funding through WIOA eligibility. The funds available to those who qualify have really been the opportunity for them to move forward with career advancement as well as salary increase needed to live in the economy that exists these days.

  14. v-kfrancesca says:

    In the Earn Center we primarily work with individuals that are receiving cash assistance (TANIF) through the county assistance office. If they are able to work the county assistance office will refer them to our program to assist them with finding training, or employment opportunities. People apply for cash benefits and get referred to us for a variety of reasons. Some, have lost their jobs, others may have a criminal background, or are dealing with a housing challenge, or their significant other may have become incarcerated lessening the household income. We work closely with Career Link to learn of employment and training opportunities that we can than share with our participants. Our participants will also utilize other employment platforms to search for jobs such as Indeed. In order to maintain their benefits, each participant is required by the county assistance office to engage in meaningful activity for a set number of hours. As a career coach in the Earn program one of my responsibilities is to engage with each person on my caseload on a weekly basis to ensure that they are meeting their required hours. If they are having difficulty keeping up with their weekly hours we do what we can to support them. If participants are having legal challenges we refer them to legal aid. If they are in need of mental health services we speak with The Earn Behavioral Health Advocate, so that they can receive additional supports. At times, we may also refer participants to contact housing programs to assist them with housing challenges. We also make referrals for training programs that are not a part of Career Link, such as Manna on Main’s culinary program. Sometimes, we also work with the county assistance office if a participant is not meeting their required hours, or if we need to request a Special Allowance for a participants needs such as transportation, car repairs, uniforms, books, etc. Those are just some of the resources that we provide our participants with. It takes the collaboration of many individuals and agencies to support the individuals that we serve.

  15. jhaynes says:

    Montco Works Now works with a wide variety of youth in Montgomery County. Majority of the youth in our immediate area are African American and Latino. Many of our youth have Learning Disabilities and come from Low income backgrounds. Our team is able to provide these youths with information and resources that otherwise would not be available to them.. We try to help knock down barriers that would prevent them from finishing school and obtaining employment.
    We work with a number of different providers in this forum to help assist with each individual child that is eligible for our program. Each of these providers play a vital role in helping to ensure that a youth is put on the right track to succeed in life. It is vital to the child’s success that he or she is able to access all the supports that is available to them.

  16. hjones says:

    MontcoWorks NOW serves youth between the ages of 14-24 who are often presented with daily challenges stemming from a variety of challenges socially, economically and in some cases emotionally. We serve as a great resource and gateway for our youth participants who need access to career exploration, job readiness, employment and educational related resources. We also work with youth ex-offenders and returning citizens from both the juvenile and adult justice systems. Through mentoring and connecting youth to various opportunities, we aim to help them reach a better place than what they entered the program in.

  17. gstone says:

    Our team works with a variety of different populations at CareerLink. People from all different backgrounds, ethnicities, experiences, religions, cultures, etc. seek CareerLink services to support their employment and training goals. Many of our customers are from lower socioeconomic statuses, have criminal backgrounds, have a disability, or are mature workers. The first step in providing services to any customers involves getting to know them to better understand who they are and what they have been through. By utilizing our helping skills, we can build meaningful connections with customers to better support their individual goals. Active listening plays a huge role in working with diverse populations because it allows me to learn about someone who might come from a different background; I can learn about their experiences, beliefs, and culture which will help me become more culturally competent. Active listening is important to understand how we can best support a customer. The last thing we want to do is let our own implicit bias, attitude, or belief impact how we work with a customer.

    When working with someone who is of lower socioeconomic status, I can have a conversation with them about the support they currently have, along with the support/resources they need. If someone is underemployed, they may not realize they could be eligible for County Assistance (SNAP, TANF). There are also many other services for low-income individuals/families that can alleviate some financial burden. When that financial burden is lessened, they may feel less anxious and more motivated to work with their career coach to find another job. However, I cannot assume someone would be interested in seeking county assistance as that is not the pathway for everyone. It always comes back to meeting the customer where they are and working with them to achieve their goals.

  18. jlord says:

    I work with a wide range of people, and the main thing I see is that no matter their backgrounds, the hopes they harbor, the challenges they face, or the basis of their group IDs, races, or ethnicities, the fundamental facet of the interaction that all respond positively to is being given respect and being given serious attention to the need(s) they came in with. The individuals I struggle the most with are the long-term homeless. Even though my 1:1 interactions are positive, I feel the challenges they face are so multi-layered and deep that my meager scope of help is a drop in the bucket.

  19. jlord says:

    I appreciated gstone’s considered, practical approach to providing focused, individualized and pertinent information that could be a stepping stone to another stepping stone until they can navigate across their “river”.

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